Wages up slightly on North Olympic Peninsula

Average weekly wages were $785 in Clallam County and $752 in Jefferson County in the third quarter of 2018, an increase for both counties from the previous year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday.

Clallam County’s average weekly wage, which adds up to $40,820 per year, ranked 25th among the 39 counties in the state.

The average weekly wage in Clallam County was up $22 from the third quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Western Information Office.

Jefferson County’s average weekly wage, which equates to $39,104 per year, was 30th in the state.

The average weekly wage in Jefferson County was up $13 from the third quarter of 2017, BLS officials said.

Average wages are compiled under a BLS quarterly census program.

Jim Vleming, a regional economist with the state Employment Security Department, said the wage growth is a sign that more people are holding onto jobs.

“As employment sort of stays stable and unemployment remains lower, those jobs carry over and you’re seeing pay raises,” Vleming said.

“We’ve been on such a good stretch for some time. Now we’re seeing some wage growth.”

Clallam County had 23,781 workers last September, up 384 from the previous year, according to the BLS data.

Jefferson County had 9,058 wage earners last September, up 185 from the previous year.

The average weekly wage in the state was $1,280 in the third quarter of 2018, an increase of $72 per week from the third quarter of 2017.

Only Massachusetts ($1,305) and the District of Columbia ($1,807) had higher weekly wages than Washington state.

King County had the highest wages in the state at $1,752 per week at the last census, ranking sixth for all U.S. counties.

Vleming said Amazon and other large Seattle companies “skew the numbers” and results in “apples to oranges” comparisons to rural areas like the North Olympic Peninsula.

All 29 counties in the state with fewer than 75,000 workers had average weekly wages below the national average of $1,055, BLS officials said.

Okanogan County had the lowest wages in the state in the third quarter of 2018 at $650 per week.

Santa Clara County, Calif., home of Silicon Valley, had the highest weekly wages in the nation at $2,460, according to the third-quarter BLS report.

Rounding out the top five places for highest wages were San Mateo County, Calif. ($2,363), San Francisco ($2,097), Manhattan ($1,997) and Washington, D.C. ($1,807).

As of February, unemployment was 8.8 percent in Clallam County and 7.0 percent in Jefferson County.

The state Employment Security Department will publish March unemployment data for counties Tuesday.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.